Professional truck drivers urge Virginians to follow safe driving tips during Fourth of July holiday

roads-newThe Virginia Trucking Association is urging the more than 1 million Virginians that AAA projects will travel by automobile during the July 4th holiday to practice cuation and patience to ensure our roads are safe.

Nationwide, AAA expects about 41 million Americans to travel at least 50 miles or more. That’s up about 2% from the 40.3 million who traveled during last year’s Independence Day weekend. About 85% will take their trips by car.

Additional motorists and road conditions can lead to dangerous situations, so a team of elite professional truck drivers are offering advice on how to navigate through highway traffic and arrive at your destination safely.  Members of America’s Road Team – an elite group of professional truck drivers – with more than 470 years collective driving experience and 30 million-plus accident-free miles, have several safety tips for motorists traveling the highways this holiday.

Their safe driving tips include:

  • Prepare your vehicle for long distance travel: Check your wipers and fluids. Have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance before you leave your home can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road.
  • Plan ahead: Know where you are going and be prepared to exit. Before you get on a highway, know your exit by name and number, and watch the signs as you near the off-ramp. Indecisive drivers making unexpected lane changes to exit is a major cause of traffic problems and accidents.
  • Leave early and avoid risks:  Leave early so you won’t be anxious about arriving late and to accommodate delays, which often occur on routes to and from Virginia’s beaches and the Outer Banks.  Road conditions may change due to inclement weather or traffic congestion. Dial 511 or visit www.511Virginia.org for information about traffic conditions in Virginia.
  • Be aware of large trucks and vehicles – Trucks and other large vehicles have large blind spots, so if you can’t see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, then the truck driver can’t see you. Also remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.  A fully loaded tractor trailer takes a football field and both end zones to come to a complete stop when driving at highway speeds.
  • Pay Attention – Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes. Looking away for even two seconds doubles the chances of an accident.  Turn cell phones and PDAs off.
  • No Texting – Writing or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 MPH, that’s like driving the length of a football field – blindfolded.  If you text while you’re behind the wheel, you’re 20 times more likely to be involved in a crash than a non-distracted driver.
  • Allow a Safety Cushion – Look a quarter mile ahead for a safe path and leave yourself an out in case of distress.
  • Slow Down – Chances of a crash nearly triples when driving faster than surrounding traffic.
  • Buckle Up – Safety belts are not a fashion statement – they save lives.
  • Check your emergency kit: Contents should include: battery powered radio, flashlight, blanket, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable foods, maps, tire repair kit and flares.
  • Keep extra water in your vehicle – Just as you keep a winter driving kit in your vehicle, it is important to be prepared when driving during the summer months. Keep plenty of extra water, sunscreen and non-perishable snacks in your car in case you are stranded.
  • Abide by Traffic Rules – Follow traffic signs and signals – paying special attention to work zones.
  • Be Careful Backing Up – One in four preventable collisions involve backing up.  Be sure to look before backing up; walk around your car prior to departure.

“The Fourth of July is a special holiday for many Americans – and in particular many truck drivers,” said America’s Road Team Captain David Boyer a professional truck driver for ABF Freight System in Wytheville, Virginia. “By exercising a little caution and common sense, we can all do our part to ensure the holiday remains a festive and happy occasion for all Americans.”

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